Career and Tech Ed Partnership Links High School Students to Design, Line Mechanic Careers


February 08, 2019

High school students are connecting to careers in design and as line mechanics, thanks to a partnership bringing together Milwaukee Area Technical College, Milwaukee Public Schools, We Energies, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

To celebrate the start of Career and Technical Education month in Wisconsin this week, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes joined MATC President Dr. Vicki J. Martin, MPS Superintendent Dr. Keith Posley, We Energies President Tom Metcalfe, DPI Secretary Dr. Carolyn Stanford Taylor and DWD Secretary Designee Caleb Frostman visited participating apprenticeship and internship students.

Through her design apprenticeship, Airianna Morchecho, a senior at MPS’ Ronald Reagan College Preparatory High School, received several weeks of industry-specific training alongside We Energies registered apprentices.

Students work a total of 900 hours receiving instruction in natural gas design and engineering. Youth apprentices spend part of their time in the office designing construction prints, and then continue to the job sites to see how their designs are implemented. This program provides students with the opportunity to receive up to 12 college credits that will transfer to MATC upon high school graduation.

“I realized that going to a technical college -- in my case MATC -- will be very beneficial for me,” Morchecho said at the event held at We Energies’ West Allis Operations Center. She said she may ultimately transfer to a university to expand her education further. “This is an experience that no one should pass up. You won’t find another opportunity like this.”

Line mechanic intern Khari Pleas-Carni, a student at MPS’ Lynde and Harry Bradley Technology and Trade School, said the program offers a chance to give back to the community and follow in the footsteps of his father and two grandfathers who worked in the trades.

“This has been a life-changing experience for me,” he said.

Pleas-Carni plans to continue in the program, which includes reserved seats for the high school interns in MATC’s Electric Power Distribution/Line Mechanic diploma program.

Dr. Martin noted that career and technical education is at the heart of so many MATC programs, connecting students to careers that require more than a high school education but less than a four-year degree.

Over each of the past five years, the college has seen 20 percent growth in the number of MATC credits earned by high school students.

Apprenticeships and internships, she notes, can help a student identify their career interests earlier.

“My goal is for every high school student to have a career exploration experience like this one,” she said.